The Third World Network (TWN) Africa has expressed disappointment at the speed at which the Economic Partnership Agreement(EPA) with the European Union (EU)was ratified by parliament.
The EPA was passed on August 3, 2016 under a certificate of urgency to allow European producers have some substantial penetration into Ghana’s market whiles Ghanaian exporters also have access to European markets.
But speaking to Citi Business News in an interview, a programmes officer with the Third World Network Africa, Sylvester Bagoroo bemoaned the process through which parliament assessed the agreement, describing it as lacking critical examination.
“We at TWN Africa we are disappointed with what parliament as an institution has done. This is an agreement that was negotiated for over a decade because there were a lot of dangerous clauses in that agreement. We were expecting parliament to debate it at committee level for months,” he said.
According to Mr. Bagoroo, the speed under which the House considered the agreement and ratified it was not enough since various stakeholders who would be affected by the agreement were not invited.
“We were expecting parliament to have an open debate so that all of us will understand. For instance a number of constituencies raised objections to the EPA”
He pointed out that the Trades Union, farmers, CSOs and local business owners all objected to the agreement.
“So has parliament actually listened to all these people? Has parliament had consultation with them so that the accountability that exists between parliament and the public is enhanced?” he lamented.
Mr. Bagoroo maintained that anytime such agreements that affect the public are not passed in consultation with Ghanaians, the confidence of the public in the agreement diminishes.
“Our worry is that parliament should have invited all the groups objecting the ratification so that at the end of the day Ghanaians will accept it,” he stressed.
He stated that as the agreement stands now, Ghanaian producers will suffer since the European Union could flood Ghana’s market with goods already produced in the country.
Parliament ratifies EPA
Ghana’s parliament ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between government and the European Union (EU) last week.
Government earlier signed onto the agreement (interim) but was awaiting ratification from Parliament as stipulated in the country’s laws in relation to international agreements.
The ratification of the agreement by Parliament will lead to the entry of a percentage of imports from Europe to Africa and vice versa, free of tariffs.
For Ghana ,some of the duty-free access on exports to the EU market include processed cocoa products, fruit and vegetable products, and fish.
Prior to its ratification a number of business associations as well as civil society organizations had kicked against the agreement arguing that the deal will do more harm than good for the country.
Since 2000, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) have been working with the EU Commission to sign a non-preferential bilateral trade treaty in which either side would offer both tariffs and concession, but in a regime that favours the ACP countries more.
ECOWAS member states including Ghana have been working since 2000 to sign the pact as a sub-region with the EU.
In December 2007, Ghana initialed an interim EPA to avoid a similar tariff action after the preferential trade agreement enjoyed under a previous treaty , named the Cotonou Accord expired in the year 2000.
Trade volume between Ghana-EU
Trade volume between EU and Ghana as at 2013 was estimated at 11.2 billion euros from 1.9 billion euros in 2000.
Currently, the EU is Ghana’s biggest trading partner as trade volumes is further estimated to surge.
By: Lawrence Segbefia/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana